ORLANDO – In the competitive world of new, start-up restaurants, finding something unique that draws in customers can be the difference between a thriving business — and closing your doors.
At Banana’s, it’s not just the Eggs Benedict meals available all day, or the burgers and sandwiches that have made this restaurant on N. Mills Avenue a favorite lunch spot. It’s the fact that the staff goes out of their way to be …. well, positively entertaining.
How entertaining? Ask Joshua Eads-Brown, who has a dual role at the diner, as both a server …. and an entertainer.
If you think Banana’s wants to be laid back and low key, think again.
Or, more specifically, think about Sundays.
Sundays are fast becoming a genuine talent night at Banana’s, Eads-Brown said – you show up, and you perform. If the crowd likes you, you’re a hit. If not, remember they have food on their plates to toss at you.
“Sign up is from 6 to 6:45 (p.m.),” he said. “Then they perform from 7 to 9:30.”
What exactly can the performers do?
“Anything,” Eads-Brown said. “You have five minutes to do it.”
Banana’s opened last December, just before New Year’s, right next to an upscale restaurant by the same owners, the Funky Monkey Wine Company. From the start, Banana’s has strived to be fun, and, as Eads-Brown noted, they seem to have made a strong connection with Greater Orlando’s theater community – including Eads-Brown himself, an actor, singer and drag performer who just finished a run performing in “Evil Dead-The Musical” at Theatre Downtown.
That’s why they’re opening their doors on Sunday nights to performers.
“It’s a great thing,” Eads-Brown said. “We want to bring more of the theater community in here.”
Banana’s will also be doing some juried shows in the future, with a $3,000 prize package to the best performers, he added.
On Sunday mornings, the diner hosts its popular Praise the Lord and Pass The Liquor Gospel Brunch, presided over by Sister Hunter and Sister Markstone, with shows at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. As Eads-Brown noted, it’s not for the easily offended or faint of heart.
But it’s not the only night when Banana’s … well, goes a little bit bananas.
Starting on Monday, Aug. 16, the diner will be hosting “QueenGo” – or what Eads-Brown called “drag queen bingo. Me and Trixie Deluxe, we host it. Literally all we do is play the regular bingo games – in drag.”
If that sounds like fun, come back on Tuesday nights for something a bit different – musical fun for the entire family. It’s Broadway at Banana’s, with shows at 7:30 and 9 p.m.
“Tuesday nights are our only family-friendly night,” Eads-Brown said. “We do a full Broadway revue. We’re still in drag, but we don’t curse at the microphone.”
Fridays and Saturdays the diner offers “24 hour drag service,” and there are future plans on Wednesday evenings for a drag version of the daytime talk show “The View.” The regular Banana’s crew will offer their take on the ladies who host that show.
“We’ll probably be dressing up like Whoopie (Goldberg) and so on,” Eads-Brown said.
Banana’s Diner is at 920 N. Mills Ave. in downtown Orlando. The diner is open from Mondays through Thursday from 7 a.m. to midnight and 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. The diner stays open on Sunday until midnight.
To learn more, call 407-480-2200.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.